Chad Brauer’s Favorite Bass Fishing Patterns for Lake of the Ozarks
Fishing and guiding at the Lake of the Ozarks helped Chad Brauer gain plenty of experience before he followed his legendary father on the tournament trail.
The son of bass tournament superstar Denny Brauer has also become a topnotch professional angler by winning the 1996 Bassmasters Tennessee Top 100 Pro event and qualifying for the 1998 Bassmasters Classic. When he’s home from the tournament trail, Chad Brauer still fishes in some tournaments on his home lake. Here’s a look at his favorite ways to catch bass on Lake of the Ozarks throughout the seasons.
From December through mid-March, Brauer keys on the lower end of the lake (from about the 30-mile mark to Bagnell Dam). The water temperature during this time usually ranges from 32 degrees to the mid-50s.
Keying on bluff ends and steep points, Brauer casts a brown 1/ 2-ounce chameleon craw Strike King Pro Model Jig and small brown pork chunk to the bank and works it back to the boat. The depth of the fish depends on the weather. “A good starting spot for me is 15 to 25 feet and I may move a little shallower or deeper,” he suggests.
During the pre-spawn stage, Brauer sticks with the same jig that he uses in the wintertime but if the water turns dirty he changes colors and tactics. In murky water he switches to a black-and-blue or black-and-chartreuse jig and plastic craw and pitches or flips the lure in the shallows.
The Osage Beach, MO, pro concentrates on the last one or two bluff banks he finds in the backs of creeks and coves. If the water is clear, he will cast to the steep banks and work the lure out to 20 feet, but in murky water conditions he pitches the lure and targets fish in the 1- to 5-foot range.
This pattern produces best for Brauer from early March to mid-April when the water temperature is in the mid 50s to low 60s. He can catch bass on this tactic from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam during this time.
All arms of the lake also produce for Brauer during the spawn, which usually runs during a three-week stretch from late April to early May. The water temperature then is usually in the low to upper 60s.
Brauer continues using the brown jig tipped with a Strike King 3X Denny Brauer Chunk, but he also throws a Devil’s Horse or Zara Spook on top or works a green pumpkin plastic lizard along the bottom. He looks for shallow pockets and any banks with pea gravel where he keys on the boat docks. Most of the fish will be less than 10 feet deep during this time.
After the bass spawn, Brauer still works the same areas with topwater lures but keys more on the outside corners of the docks. “Those postspawn fish will back off on the docks and suspend underneath the foam,” he says. Brauer also drags a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard or twitches a Strike King 3X Zero jerk worm in the same areas.
Brauer’s favorite stretch to fish during the post-spawn is from the 10- to 60-mile mark.
He notes this stage of the spawn usually runs from late May to early June when the water temperature is 70 to 75 degrees.
Deep structure in the backs of coves or on the main lake is Brauer’s primary target during the heat of the summer. He looks for boat docks or brush piles along steeper banks or points in the 15- to 25-foot depth range. His primary lures for probing the depths are a 1/ 2-ounce green pumpkin Strike King Pro Model Jig and green pumpkin plastic craw and a 10- or 11-inch plastic worm in red shad or green pumpkin hues. He also tries some deep cranking in the same areas with Strike King Series 5 or 6 crankbaits in shad patterns or chartreuse with a blue back.
His summertime patterns work best from the end of June through the middle of August when the water temperature climbs from 75 degrees to the high 80s. Brauer’s favorite area to fish in the summer is the mid-lake stretch from the 10- to 40-mile mark.
The Lake of the Ozarks expert rates this season as the toughest time for him to fish his home lake.
On the lower end of the lake, he continues to fish the summertime patterns until the water starts cooling down. Brauer also starts running up the major tributaries and keys on the isolated docks and brush on the shallow flats. He suggests this pattern will work on the upper Osage, Grand Glaize, Niangua and Gravois arms. On cloudy days, he works the areas with a buzz bait, spinnerbait or Strike King 4S crankbait. In sunny weather he will swim either a 3/8- or 1/ 2-ounce white Strike King Pro Model Jig and white plastic chunk or plastic crawfish around the boat docks. The fish in these areas will be 5 feet deep or shallower.
The shallow flats pattern works best for Brauer from the end of August until November when the water temperature drops from the mid 70s to the low 60s.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 162-page vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention& Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.
Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” is available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.